Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Through 21 games Baltimore Orioles pitching is last in Earned Run Average in the American League. 13th in Home Runs allowed.

Offensively, the O's are last in Hits in the American League. 12th in Batting Average and 12th in Runs.

They are 7th in Fielding.

Their record stands at 9-12 and they are rightfully in last place in the AL East. However, they are only 3 1/2 games behind the division leading Yankees (4 in the loss column). 1 1/2 games (1 in the loss column) out of 2nd place in the division.

Are the Orioles over-achievers? or under-achievers?
Present free polls

Monday, April 25, 2011

A-Jax needs to clean it up

Last year, Austin Jackson lived the high life thanks to his .396 BABIP. He batted .293 and scored 103 runs despite whiffing 170 times and walking only 47 times. He finished second in ROY voting.

This season, Jackson is batting .193 with 9 runs in 22 games, primarily from the leadoff spot. He is still fanning at a high rate -- even higher than last year -- and his BABIP is .273. Plus, according to the defensive metrics at Fangraphs and, Jackson is average to below average in CF.

Last season, Jackson's line drive rate was 24.2% and this year it is 15.1%. Last year he hit only 2 infield flyballs all season; he has reached that total already. He also has a more than 8% decrease this year in infield hits, probably due in part to a flyball rate that has increased by 12%.

Jackson needs to be hitting line drives and beating out groundballs. He has shown signs of turning it around. Over his last four games he is batting .353 with a .462 BABIP. With a K rate around 30% he needs to keep that BABIP inflated to be productive.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Small ball

The Phillies have taught me what small ball really is.

Great pitching.

Philadelphia entered today having scored 4 or fewer runs in 12 consecutive games. The streak continued this afternoon, as the Phils won 3-1 in SD. That makes them 9-4 in their last 13 despite limited offense.

Entering today, Philadelphia was batting .201/.273/.295 in its previous dozen games. The pitching staff posted a 2.57 ERA.

OK, the Phillies aren't exactly playing small ball because they've benefited from the long ball in several games. But it is pretty remarkable what they've done with so few runs.

Winning when scoring 4 runs or fewer is tough. Generally speaking, in recent years, scoring 4 runs gives you a little better than 50-50 chance of winning. The chances decrease with each run less. Here are the win percentages of NL teams in 2011 for scoring 4 or less (not counting shutouts because there is no chance to win):

1 run -- .097
2 runs -- .163
3 runs -- .378
4 runs -- .521

Now here are the numbers for 2008-2010:

1 run -- .082, .082, .156
2 runs -- .172, .229, .251
3 runs -- .361, .355, .387
4 runs -- .500, .535, .568

Monday, April 18, 2011

Battle of the Turds

In 2010, the O's were 9 games back of the division leaders thru 14 games.
In 2011, they are only 3 games back.

In 2010, the O's needed 10 games to fashion a 7 game losing streak.
In 2011, it took 14.

In 2010, the O's sent Kevin Millwood to the mound to break the 7 game skid. He lost and the skid continued for 9 games.
In 2011, the O's send a struggling Chris Tillman to the mound to break the current 7 game skid.

In 2010, Brian Matusz beat the Oakland A's 8-3 to break the 9 game losing streak.
In 2011, Brian Matusz is on the DL.

After a euphoric first 7 games during which the O's went 6-1 and starting pitchers retired opposing hitters with impunity, the O's have settled in with a punchless offense, unreliable starting pitching and a shaky bullpen.

Tonight the O's square off against Francisco Liriano (0-3, 9.42 ERA) and the Twins in Baltimore. Will the O's offense get healthy facing a struggling Liriano? or will Liriano start his turnaround facing the hapless Baltimore offense?

Even if the O's offense comes to life, it may not be enough as the O's send Chris Tillman (0-1, 7.30 ERA) to the mound. Tillman has surrendered 10 earned runs spanning 6 1/3 innings over his last two starts. However, the Twins are the only team in the AL to have scored fewer runs than the O's thus far, so, Tillman vs. the Twins offense also poses some intrigue.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Over his previous 283 games (which date back to the start of the 2009 season) entering today, Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki batted .305/.382/.568 with 162-games averages of 35 doubles, 7 triples, 37 HRs, 114 RBI and 18 SB. The most similar batter through age 25, according to, is Ernie Banks. That's not too shabby.

Furthermore, of the 10 most similar batters, five are in the Hall of Fame* and a few others might join that group: Banks*, Vern Stephens, Gary Carter*, Nomar Garciaparra, Joe Torre, Yogi Berra*, Hanley Ramirez, Tony Lazzeri*, Derek Jeter and Joe Gordon*.

Plus, Tulowitzki is among the best, if not the best, with the glove at SS.

Since the start of the 2009 season, the WAR leaders, according to Fangraphs, are: Albert Pujols (15.9), Ryan Zimmerman (14.4), Evan Longoria (14.1), Joe Mauer (13.0), Joey Votto (13.0) and Tulowitzki (13.0). Aside from noting that Ryan Zimmerman is sadly undernoticed because he plays in DC, you can see there are 3 MVPs and a ROY in that group and Tulowitzki is the lone middle infielder.

Tulowitzki, who today against the Mets is 3-for-4 with his 6th HR as I type this, is must-see TV.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Covered dish

Ryan Howard, who is supposedly standing nearer the plate this year, is batting .359/.400/.692 so far. He is using the entire field, having pulled the ball 10 times, hit the ball up the middle 16 times and gone the opposite way 7 times (according to data). Last year, which was Howard's worst in the bigs, he pulled the ball 122 times, went up the middle 211 times and went the other way 47 times.

By percentages, that's pulling the ball 30.3% in 2011 compared to 32.1% in 2010, going up the middle 48.5% to 55.5% and going the other way 21.2% to 12.4%. So maybe standing nearing the plate is giving him better coverage on the outside pitches and he's driving them to the opposite field.

Howard's BB% had dipped slightly this year, but his K% his a historically low 17.8 (down from 25.3 last season and 27.4 average). Perhaps another sign of better plate coverage.

One other note of interest, Howard has 2 sac flies this year compared to only 3 all of last season.

This is all based on a very small sample and Howard can be a streaky hitter, but if these results are because of his new approach, it is encouraging for Phillies fans.

The master plan?

Buck Showalter is receiving a lot of attention for his work with the Orioles. I think Baltimore was very shrewd to hire him as manager. It all but guarantees the O's will return to glory with a trip to the World Series. They just have to fire him.


Reliever Koji Uehara has compiled 46 strikeouts since his last walk.

It is the 5th longest streak since 1954.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The defense rests

If there is one especially troublesome trend to the start of the season for the Tigers, it is their poor play in the field. Entering today's game against Texas, the Detroiters had committed a league-leading 13 errors in 9 games.

C Alex Avila (0-for-7 in throwing out runners), 1B Miguel Cabrera, 2B Will Rhymes, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Brandon Inge, RF Magglio Ordonez and Brennan Boesch all were ranked very much below average by various metrics. Only CF Austin Jackson and LF Ryan Raburn were average to better than average.

It is early and maybe the weather has not been great, contributing to poor fielding, but this is a worry.

Aye, There's the Rub

The O's streaked out of the gate this season at 4-0 and have gone 2-3 since to stand at 6-3 and holding onto first in the AL East. They travel to New York today to start a 3 game set with the Yankees tomorrow.

The 6-3 start highlights both the strength and weakness of this team.

During the 4-0 run, the staff ERA was 1.00. Starters pitched 26 innings (72 %) and the bullpen tossed 10.

During the 2-3 run, the staff ERA was 5.2. Starters pitched 25 1/3 innings (56%) and the bullpen tossed 19 2/3.

This pitching staff has the talent to perform ala the 4-0 stretch and the inexperience to perform ala the 2-3 stretch. Too much of the latter and the O's go into the toilet, as they have for the previous 13 seasons. Just enough of the former and the O's will be quite fun to watch.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Everybody hits

The Phillies batted .353/.407/.498 in their first 6 games. They have a .423 team BABIP. Obviously, these numbers cannot be sustained, but it has been fun to watch.

Much has been made of the Phillies not hitting the long ball (only 5 HR) and still scoring oodles of runs, but they're still slugging at a high clip thanks to 14 doubles. Most interesting is what the Phils did leading off an inning. In 50 PAs, they were .477/.540/.705.

Manny's exit

Maybe he thought they were PEZ.

Bring on the Rangers!

The Texas Rangers come to the "Land of Pleasant Living" for 3 games and I'm looking forward to the series with uncustomary glee!

O's pitching leads the AL in ERA. Ranger pitching is 3rd.

The O's have Vladimir Guerrero. The Rangers do not.

The O's are 5-1. The Rangers are ... 6-0.

O's are 11th in the AL in Batting Average. Rangers are ...... 3rd.

The O's are trying to reverse 13 years of losing baseball. The Rangers are............are defending AL champs.

umm............. Bring on the Red Sox!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Under Way

The O's swept the Rays in the season series opener. O's starters posted a 0.45 ERA over 20 innings. The staff ERA is 1. The offense scored 12 runs in the 3 game series while facing Price, Shields and Wade. Showalter has the O's ready to play right out of the gate.

The last time the O's started a season 3-0 was 1997. They won the AL East.
The last time the O's started a season 3-0 on the road was 1970. They won the World Series.

Detroit comes to Baltimore for a 3 game set. The Tigers scored 19 runs in their series opener with the Yankees. Tiger bats are heated up and ready to go. This will likely be a stiffer test for the O's pitching staff than the opening series with the Rays.

The Tigers will send Porcello, Verlander and Penny to the mound in the 3 game set. With the exception of Verlander, this is not as tough a task as Price, Shields and Wade. It's still no cakewalk and O's bats better heat up for this series. I suspect 2 runs will not win any games in this set.